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Modeling Edge Loop Reduction flows - Topology Guide


Johnson Martin writes:

An essential skill of modeling is knowing how to properly reduce the number of edge loops from a high mesh density to a low density. This involves some tricky topology and can be quite annoying at times. So let’s have a look at how to best reduce the various flow types to create the most optimal topology.

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About Author

Johnson Martin

I'm Johnson, 3d artist and writer. I'm currently a student, exploring the world of creative arts and a part time 3d Artist at Martin Media. I run Topology Guides, a blog that gives tips and tricks for 3d modelers. l also write for BlenderNation and occasionally, the Sketchfab blog.


  1. Pls consider covering topics where you have enough experience. That means 2000+ hours (a year of work minimum). That way you won't mislead beginners into bad practices. The only sort-of correct solutions are the last 3, with last 2 being redundant and the same as the middle one. The first 2 are examples of how not to do it. It is easy and irrelevant on a plane (on a plane topology does not matter), try this on a cylinder mesh and you will quickly see how it doesn't work and is full of artifacts.

    • Thanks for the feedback! I get where you're coming from. However, while I agree these are less than ideal methods, they're the best methods that I know from being a professional modeler for over 5 years.

      I have tried these methods on curved surfaces and have gotten more than good results. The other more popular methods result is very lopsided topology that isn't friendly to deformation, nor UV mapping or reflections.

      But if you've found a better solution, I'd still love to see it. I'm always looking for better ways to do things. :)

      • fluxcapacitance on

        Nice job Johnson.

        I've been using Blender since it fit on a floppy but have been getting back in after a long period of parametric CAD work. 3D printing has gotten me back into Blending and the tools have gotten so much better.

        I love your clean website layout and looking forward to seeing more solid modeling topology tricks. Bookmarked!

        • Thanks a lot! It's always great to hear positive feedback about the site and its design.

          And good luck getting back into Blender! It's certainly changed a lot in the recent years.

  2. Attached are some alternatives for the 'three to one' and 'two to one' topologies. You've probably seen them already but, just in case, here they are.

    As to the comments by 'John', there are people who critique and there are people who complain and the difference between the two is both subtle and vast. John is a complainer. He offers no suggestions, he offers no examples and he certainly doesn't bother himself with creating tutorials or offering advice as you do.

    I enjoy reading your articles. Keep up the good work.

    • It seems your attachment didn't process correctly. (WordPress can be infuriating at times. ugh.) But yeah, I've had a look at some of the other methods. Polycount has a wealth of information on topology. ;)

      The line between critique and complaint is indeed a fine one, and I think we all struggle with finding it at times. Of course, that makes it all the greater to receive quality feedback. So thanks, Jack!

    • Well, you are right, my message was a complain. But both are a form of valid critique, I disagree there. Imho including solution suggestions is a bonus and requires more time involved.

      So ok lets break down the first topo example (4 reduced into 2):
      1. The solution from here. 4 goes into 6 then back to 2. Author was probably drunk, artifacts everywhere.
      2. Refined solution from 1. Makes a bulge, because there are extra vertices creating 7 rows where there were 6 originally
      3. The correct general solution.

      I need to note here that there is no perfect solution as it is impossible. Only the one that produces the least visible artifacts and deformation - that is the one "correct".

      I do not write topology guides, because it is pointless. It is highly dependent on surface shape and where the loops need to go. Every spot is dependent on surrounding crevices and the intended resolution of the mesh. Too many tips and tricks and "guides" are already on the web, they cover what is needed already. The rest needs to be practice.

      The problem is not all the guides are right there, and for a beginner it is hard to distinguish between right and wrong. Only through time or from a senior one learns that such practices were wrong.

  3. That first comment was put there by mistake so sorry for that. But i am a noob, and my question might seem insignificant to some. _What i am trying to figure out is when to use thos esolutions. To me it look like character toplogy. Can the author or someone else comment on this?

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